: my favourites are Norma and Liebestod, then probably Robert le Diable. Of the more obscure ones, I’m partial to both the ones on L’Africaine.
Thalberg: Sonnambula, Casta diva, Don Pasquale, La traviata, A te o cara.
Pabst Sleeping Beauty.
I really like the A. Jaell Norma (which is kinda why I recorded it ); less sure about some of his other stuff where he’s getting dangerously close on occasion to plagiarising da pimp.
I’ve got a Teresa Carreno one on Norma which should be recorded, but from a structural perspective her arpz orgy section is placed too early on.
Brassin Magic fire of course used to be a virtuoso staple but fashions dictate it gets played less these days.
Fumagalli Robert le Diable is crazy.
There are quite a lot of “unknown” and barely recorded ones from the 30s and 40s: names which crop up like Herz, Dohler, Prudent. I’m not super convinced by these tbh. Let’s not forget (on Halevy) and (opp. 16, 26).
… it’s doubly absurd because much of what is being rearranged on the piano is music that is already either good or great. Of course, the “it’s only an imitation” argument then gets used. I simply think some people believe that mu*ic appreciation should be arrived at through some kind of traumatic struggle.
I suspect that if those critics went back in time to a rectal, their internal reaction would be “ugh, people openly enjoying themselves, how vulgar” and then intellectually camouflage it in verbiage before going to print.
I have a question to which I don’t know the answer. Opinions welcome.
It’s often said that eg Mozart sonatas are great music which requires a “special artist” to bring out their greatness, then why, when a different “special artist” - say Katsaris or Wild, see the Don Pasquale above, makes something magical happen in salon or “showpiece” music - is the converse argument deployed i.e. it was a great performance making something out of mediocre material?
Liszt’s great three IMO are Don Juan, Norma & Les Huguenots. Among the lighter or experimental ones my favourites are Niobe and Robert le Diable (the WHOLE Robert le Diable, with the introductory Cavatina), but as with any Liszt there’s barely a piece from his hand which doesn’t capture something from the world. One not mentioned yet which is ready to enter the standard repertoire right away is the Berceuse from Saba.
From other composers however I really don’t know. If you cherry pick there is quality music to be found from a range of composers of the time, but the vast majority struggles to meet even B or C tier Liszt if you ask me. I think the composers most worth looking in to who were productive in the genre are Czerny, Pabst and Thalberg. Maybe with a nod to Herz who does have some good things, also among his original compositions.
I agree the genre is underrepresented and overlooked today however. Its time will come… 100 years ago you’d think piano was all about little 3 minute miniatures, with the occasional large scale work thrown in to pay hommage, even if no one really wanted to hear it. Today you’d rather think all that truly matters are sonatas, concertos and other large scale multi-movement forms.
Tausig deserves a mention. I’ve never fully got on with his Wagner, but I think that’s partly a temperament issue on my side (also I think it’s much easier, for textural reasons, to paraphrase bel canto).
Ooh, forgot Moszkowski. Someone I vaguely know (who’s good enough to have played 3) said the Venusberg tranny was almost unplayable
There are only two types of these sheeyats that I really like:
The already mentioned Liszt compositions, which are almost all worthwhile, and
Anything that involves compositions of Strauss because this thematic and waltzing sheeyat works so well in virtuoso arrangements/trannies. Though not all material of it is from operettas.
GODOWSKY deserves a special mention me thinks
See this playlist: YouTube